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Monday, February 05, 2007, 05:40 am PT (08:40 am ET)

It's official: Apple and The Beatles kiss and make up

Apple and The Beatles' parent company Apple Corps said Monday they have entered into a new agreement concerning the use of the name "Apple" and apple logos, ending a testy trademark dispute dating back nearly three decades.

Under the new agreement, which replaces a pact from 1991, Apple will own all of the trademarks related to "Apple" and will license certain of those trademarks back to Apple Corps for their continued use. In addition, the ongoing trademark lawsuit between the companies will end, with each party bearing its own legal costs, and Apple continuing to use its name and logos on iTunes.

"We love the Beatles, and it has been painful being at odds with them over these trademarks," said Apple chief executive Steve Jobs. "It feels great to resolve this in a positive manner, and in a way that should remove the potential of further disagreements in the future."

The terms of settlement were not disclosed.

Last May, a London High Court judge sided with Apple in the most recent of cases brought on by Apple Corps, which charged that the iPod maker's user of an apple logo alongside its iTunes and digital music player products was in breach of the firms' 1991 contract. Apple Corps was ordered to pay Apple's legal bill, estimated at £2m.

Monday's announcement effectively ends the long-standing dispute between the two companies, which dates back to the early 1980's. It may also lend credence to ongoing reports that firms plan to further bury the hatchet by kicking-off an exclusive arrangement by which The Beatles' music catalog is made available through Apple's iTunes download service.

"It is great to put this dispute behind us and move on," said Neil Aspinall, manager of Apple Corps. "The years ahead are going to be very exciting times for us. We wish Apple Inc. every success and look forward to many years of peaceful co-operation with them."

Apple's Jobs has been courting the British rock group — arguably the most prestigious name to thus far escape the digital music download scene — to join his iTunes revolution for some time. Speculation on the matter reached all-time highs last month, as news reports suggested the two parties were close to an arrangement that would give iTunes first shot at online distribution of Beatles songs, including a three-month exclusive that would begin with the release of the Beatles' Cirque du Soleil project, Love, on Valentine's day.

Though such a deal remains unconfirmed, many Apple and Beatles followers gained inspiration from the flagrant display of Beatles propaganda during Jobs' recent keynote address in San Francisco. An iTunes pact, they believe, may be just days away.